The intensified use of electrical devices has revolutionized the modus operandi in the contemporary world. With the internet encroachment, websites and applications can be accessed on these devices, including smartphones, tablets and computers. This transformation has brought about various beneficial features that have facilitated the way things used to be done in the past. One of the significant transformations involves reading texts from multiple resources on these devices. While it would be difficult for illiterate individuals, unfortunate ones such as the blind/ visually impaired also find it challenging to access such materials.
Text-to-speech, TTS, has been a helpful feature over the internet, with most individuals nowadays embracing the technology. This article presents a detailed guide on details encompassed in the TTS niche. By the end of this guide, you will have comprehended what TTS entails.
What Is Text To Speech About?
So, what is text to speech? What is it about? Typically, text to speech is a system that operates by synthesizing speech notes through the conversion of texts into spoken voice output. This spoken voice is generated through a computer system, where the user listens to it. Usually, these systems aim at helping individuals who cannot read a typed text due to various factors. TTS systems range from websites, applications and plugins, all which perform a similar function.
At times, people tend to confuse Text to Speech systems with Voice Response systems since they have undistinguishable functionality. But you need to know that TTS reads a string of text characters while a voice response decodes previously recorded voice texts. TTS is not limited to words only encoded by the systems, but it also recognizes words from original phrases. The system reads the words out loud, and therefore a user can listen to them.
How does TTS work?
A TTS system encompasses text character recognition features that help read texts from a sentence aloud. Some might also have integrated optical character recognition, a feature that enables the system to decode texts in images. As the system reads the texts aloud, it highlights them along to help the user to follow.
TTS systems are compatible with electronic devices, while they can decode texts from different kinds of files such as online pages and word documents. There are different types of TTS systems, each bearing various features and capabilities. Below is a highlight of some of these TTS tools.
Web-based TTS tools
These are tools developed alongside a website, and they are available online. Once you visit such a site, you can access them and have your content read out loud. Usually, there is an icon on the website that lets you turn the tool on and off. Mostly, educational sites use this tool to help students with reading difficulties, especially kids. For instance, Bookshare is a website platform that provides access to electronic textbooks which can be accessed using the text to speech tool. This website offers free account registration to kids suffering from dyslexia condition. Their TTS tools are available for free to anyone who owns an account.
Google Chrome also offers TTS tools’ accessibility services. The newly updated version contains several related tools, including Snap and Read Universal and Read and Write for Google Chrome. You need to install chrome web-browser on your device to access these TTS tools. Whenever you visit a website, you can turn them on and get help reading contents on webpages.
Text to Speech applications
When you own a smartphone or a tablet, you can access TTS by installing apps on the device. They are also compatible with kids’ tablets, and hence you can install them for your kids who have troubles reading. Applications such as Newscaster Vocalizer, Content Samurai, Office Lens, Claro ScanPen, and Voice Dream Reader are perfect examples of applications compatible with smartphones and digital tablets. They bear different features, such as highlighting texts while they read them aloud, among others.
Content Samurai Demo (This Blog Post, Transformed Into A Video)
Text to Speech software
Just like the applications, you can install TTS software programs in your desktop or a laptop. These programs have more extensive features and abilities compared to mobile apps. Besides, they are more flexible and allow for more manipulation. For instance, you can integrate them into other document-based programs in your computers such as Microsoft Word and OneNote. You can download them from the internet and install them on your computer. Some popular software program examples include Read&Write;, ClaroRead, and Kurzweil 3000, among several others.
Built-in text to speech tools
Currently, most manufacturers have upgraded their production process. They have included TTS tools in their devices in the form of an integrated system. Most computers and smartphones nowadays have in-built text to speech tools, which means that you do not have to download and install similar applications from external sources. So, if you need to use TTS tools and you have not yet acquired a device, you might consider purchasing one that has this feature enabled.
While the general market may present some products claiming to offer reliable services, you need to consider various factors. For increased efficiency, you need to choose the best text to speech app. That way, you are assured of minimal issues such as bugs.
Using Text-to-Speech Tools
So, now you have a device with a TTS app installed. The only thing remaining is putting it into practical functioning. Fundamentally, you need to establish how to text to speech using the available application.
Different TTS tools have different functionality and hence, are used differently. However, their mode of operation is comparable, while there are no complicated operation processes. Besides downloading and installing them, which you carry out just like other applications, using them requires a mere click on an icon. This button is found on whatever platform you are using to access the tool. For instance, if you are using a website based tool, the icon is located on the webpages below the web content.
If you switch to the tool’s dashboard, you can access several other features. You can vary the quality and type of voice to fit your preferences. Different tools provide various kinds of sounds from a child’s to an adult’s and different gender’s voice. Besides, you can adjust the volume and the speaking speed of the voice.
Choosing the Best Text-to-Speech Application
The emergence of text-to-speech technology has led to the introduction of several apps that help in the process. But indeed, you will want to go for the one that suits your preferences. Therefore, you need to consider various essential factors whenever you are looking for a TTS application.
We have compiled some important factors to help you find a favorite application. Have a look below.
Before installing an application, you have to establish its main features. You do not want to install an app then realize that probably, you do not like the quality of the voice it bears. Among the main features that you need to consider are the ability to adjust the tone and the speed of the voice. Typically, almost all applications in the market bear this feature. But if you find one that does not offer this provision, then it is not worth going for.
The sound output format is also an essential consideration. Some of the standard formats available include MP3 and WAV. Some formats are not compatible with various audio players. So, before installing a particular application, ensure that it converts texts into an audio format compatible with your device. Sound quality, conversion rate, and highlight during reading, among others, are some of the essential consideration.
2. Speech voices
TTS tools are designed with an incorporated speech engine. This engine is responsible for the synthetization of speech, thereby converting texts to audio. Besides, it provides the ability to convert particular languages into audio. Therefore, while selecting a TTS application, you might want to look for one that includes several languages. If you do not opt for one that can accommodate multiple languages, then ensure that your preferred language is a possibility.
Designers have set different necessities for those accessing their tools. One of the necessities is the cost of acquisition. Some will offer it for free, only requiring you to create an account on their website. Others will require you to pay a small amount to access full features. Well, cheap may seem better, but you should not ignore the fact that those charging for them might offer more and advanced features. If you have a limited budget for the tools, then going for the free ones is a perfect option, but if you could afford to pay for one, then go ahead and enjoy vast benefits.
Every TTS software has a particular character limit range. This is the maximum number of characters it can read out loud for a single session. If you only have a few lines that you want to convert, then you can go for a software that has a low character limit. However, if you want a software for substantial conversion such as in commercial use, then a software program that can accommodate several characters is perfect.
You can visit specific websites for particular TTS applications for detailed information. You will undoubtedly find information about the features, character limit and acquisition necessities for that program. Besides, you can go through the reviews’ section to find out about the experience other users have with the tools.
Why are TTS systems popular?
We all agree now that TTS systems are beneficial. They offer way too many benefits, and we could say that they are a perfect invention in the contemporary world. These benefits have made these systems so popular, and a lot of people have embraced them. We shall look into these benefits to get a more precise overview of why TTS tools have become prevalent.
Enhanced text reading
The most significant benefit offered by the Text-to-Speech systems is helping individuals with reading difficulties. Such troubles could be as a result of health conditions, long passages, word choices, or any other issue that could be limiting their reading capabilities. A TTS application curbs this issue and improves the rate of knowledge and information acquisition, achievable through reading.
Saves time and resources
Sometimes, your reading skills may be inadequate, and you might take long to read complete long prose. Listening in such a case is more efficient, especially since the systems do not pause due to reading struggles.
On the other hand, some large organization deploy transcribing method as a means of promoting their product. Involving individuals to record voices might not attract as many customers as a TTS application would. The voice from such an application is clear and more natural. Besides, an application would not cost the company as much as it would while involving a person. Therefore, if you are into marketing your products through advertisements, then using a TTS software would cost you less.
Better web presence
When a website has incorporated TTS tools in the design, then it is likely to attract more traffic compared with one that does not have such tools. Such vast traffic generates because there are no limitations to the kind of people who can access the site. Anyone, irrespective of their sight condition can obtain information on the website. For instance, an individual with a visual impairment condition can access a site with TTS tools present.
It means that TTS is an essential tool for website owners who are looking to grow the rate of users’ visits. Increased traffic consequently increases ones web presence.
Essentially, the internet provides a wide range of Text-to-Speech programs. You are supposed to choose one after profound consideration of crucial factors. But eventually, all systems will serve a similar core task; reading texts for you aloud. While going for a particular software, ensure that it suits your preferences. Otherwise, you will end up uninstalling it and going back to find a favorite one.
These applications are most helpful to children who struggle a lot in school. Most are affected by dyslexia, and they can barely read with ease. So, if you have troubles reading written texts, do not struggle anymore. Whether it is you, or your kids in school, get one today and improve your reading abilities.